Texas State (8-18) at Arkansas State (15-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 22, 8:05 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Convocation Center (10,475) -- Jonesboro, Arkansas. Television: None. Home Record: TXST 5-7, ASU 8-2. Away Record: TXST 1-10, ASU 7-7. Neutral Record: TXST 2-1, ASU 0-0. Conference Record: TXST 4-9, ASU 8-5. Series Record: Arkansas State leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: Both the Texas State Bobcats and the Arkansas State Red Wolves will try to build momentum off of their respective wins from earlier in the week, when the Sun Belt Conference foes square off at the Convocation Center on Saturday night.
Texas State had lost three straight prior to edging South Alabama at home on Thursday night, 67-66 in overtime. The Bobcats' season as a whole has still been a struggle, however, as they are just 8-18 overall, 4-9 in the Sun Belt and 1-10 on the road.
ASU made easy work of Texas-Arlington on Thursday, 83-60, to improve its record at the Convocation Center to a stellar 8-2. The Red Wolves have won four of their last five games to surge to 15-9 overall and 8-5 in the league, although they still trail Georgia State (12-1), Western Kentucky (9-4) and Louisiana (9-5) in the standings.
The teams met for the very first time earlier this season, with ASU coming out on top in San Marcos on Jan. 4, 74-69
Although the Bobcats coughed up a lead in the final minute of regulation earlier in the week, they made up for it in the overtime period when, trailing by one with just two seconds remaining, Joel Wright drew a foul and drained two clutch free throws to lift them to the thrilling victory. They shot a modest 42.1 percent from the field while holding South Alabama to only 37.5 percent shooting and were led by 26 points from Reid Koenen, who shot a red- hot 7-of-10 from 3-point range. Wright finished just 7-of-20 from the field but was 6-of-7 at the stripe for 21 points to go with eight rebounds and three blocks.
On the season, Texas State shoots a respectable 44.3 percent from the field but that has been good for just 62.6 ppg, which isn't nearly strong enough to support its solid defensive attack (66.2 ppg). The team only knocks down 11.2 free throws per outing at a lackluster 66.4 percent clip. Wright is the unquestioned catalyst with 14.8 ppg and 6.2 rpg. Emani Gant (9.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg) shoots 56.3 percent from the field and Wesley Davis chips in 8.8 ppg.
The Red Wolves opened up a comfortable 12-point halftime lead in their most recent contest and never broke a sweat down the stretch as they delivered UTA the 23-point defeat. It was a hot-shooting evening for the squad, who made 50 percent of its field goal attempts, including a whopping 16-of-30 from 3-point range, and it was also stellar from the charity stripe (19-of-23). Kirk Van Slyke was especially excellent with 23 points on 7-of-8 from 3-point range. Cameron Golden (14 points) and Brandon Reed (13) were impressive off the bench, while Melvin Johnson III also scored 13.
Scoring points has come rather easily for ASU this season, as it shoots 45.2 percent from the field for 77.1 ppg, and it makes 9.0 3-pointers per game (tied for 12th in the nation) at a 38.8 percent success rate. The squad hasn't been great defensively, allowing 71.6 ppg, but it owns a +0.7 turnover margin. Van Slyke tallies 16.0 ppg and 6.1 rpg with great percentages from the field (.546), 3-point range (.458) and the free-throw line (.840). Johnson (15.3 ppg) has also been outstanding from long range (65-of-136, .478), while Kendrick Washington (10.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Reed (9.7 ppg) are also regular contributors.
Considering ASU's prowess at home and Texas State's struggles on the road, the writing is on the wall in this one. Expect the Red Wolves to put this one away early.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas State 84, Texas State 65
02/22 10:57:26 ET